Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program [Updated September 10, 2008]   [open pdf - 103KB]

This is an updated report from the Congressional Research Service on the SAFER Grant Program. "In response to concerns over the adequacy of firefighter staffing, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Act -- popularly called the 'SAFER Act' -- was enacted by the 108th Congress as Section 1057 of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136). The SAFER Act authorizes grants to career, volunteer, and combination local fire departments for the purpose of increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. Also authorized are grants to volunteer fire departments for activities related to the recruitment and retention of volunteers. […] To date, the Bush Administration has requested zero funding for SAFER in all years of the program's existence. […] The FY2009 budget justification stated that the federal government already spends 'billions of dollars in annual support to train, exercise, and equip state and local public safety personnel, including firefighters, so that they are adequately prepared to respond to a terrorist attack or other major incident.' […]Facing the 110th Congress is the issue of whether or not -- and if so, to what extent -- the SAFER program should be funded. The Administration has consistently requested no funding for SAFER, arguing that localities should be solely responsible for funding firefighting personnel. Fire service advocates counter that the inability of many local fire departments to meet minimum standards for personnel levels could lead to inadequate response to different types of emergency incidents, substandard response times, and an increased risk of firefighter fatalities."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33375
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